When BankBoston Corp. and Fleet Financial Group complete their planned merger, the new bank would use BankBoston's risk management tools, the chief credit officer of BankBoston Corp. said Wednesday.
Speaking before the Bank and Financial Analysts Association in New York, executive vice president John L. Mastromarino also said BankBoston intends to tighten credit to Latin America.
In a first glimpse at how the two banks would combine their credit operations, Mr. Mastromarino said that during a preliminary review of Fleet Financial Group's books last week, it became clear that BankBoston had more sophisticated risk models.
"We'll just move our market risk model into their chassis," Mr. Mastromarino said. "We've got some of this already built."
He said the decision is expected to produce significant cost savings, because Fleet was building a new credit risk management system under its vice chairman, David L. Eyles.
Analysts have said the smaller BankBoston is far ahead of its Boston- based neighbor in trading and investment banking prowess-necessary tools for portfolio management. Mr. Mastromarino acknowledged as much but said he was surprised at how similarly the banks approach risk.
"Near the end of our discussions we were finishing one another's sentences," Mr. Mastromarino said.
On Monday, Fleet and BankBoston released a snapshot of where the combined bank would stand in terms of credit quality. The pro forma bank is expected to have $112 billion in loan assets and a loan-loss reserve of $2.3 billion.
The ratio of loans to reserves at the proposed Fleet Boston would be 2.06%-lower than Fleet's 2.24% but higher than BankBoston's 1.76%. The merged bank would also expect to have $684 million in nonperforming loans, $402 million from BankBoston, $282 million from Fleet.
The combined bank would also reduce exposure to Latin American lending, where BankBoston invested a significant amount of capital, Mr. Mastromario said.
"Our loan generation will be less than we estimated, but pricing will be better," Mr. Mastromarino said, adding that the decision was not merger- related but based on Latin America's difficulty in recovering from its currency crisis. "We're going to be more selective going into the market."
International lending accounted for 31.9% of BankBoston's portfolio, at $13.6 billion. Fleet's exposure to international loans was minimal - at $485 million, it was less than 1% of its portfolio. As a result, the combined bank would have 12.6% of its portfolio in international loans.